Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Peter Avellino(Mr. Peel)'s Favorite Older Films Seen 1st in 2011 ""

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peter Avellino(Mr. Peel)'s Favorite Older Films Seen 1st in 2011

The one and only Peter Avellino runs the quite excellent blog Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur. I give it my strongest recommendation. Mr. Avellino has done me the honor of digging through the archives of his mind to pull out the first time views from 2011 that stood out the most to him. Read on!
(click on the bold movie** titles below to read the entries for each on MR. PEEL!)

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Looking for films I had never seen before took me down some odd roads this year. And while it wasn’t something I set out to do, it turns out that a fair number of pieces I wound up writing on my blog were actually about films I had already seen, which I suppose had to do with wanting to figure out why they were still swirling around in my brain. But just because I didn’t write about something doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it, so here are ten films that I saw for the first time. I won’t say they’re the very best ten new ones I saw all year—I really do need to keep better track of what I see on TCM—but they are ten that I’m very glad I finally got around to. Special honorable mention should also be paid to Nicholas Ray’s ON DANGEROUS GROUND**, about which I even admitted how I wasn’t certain if I’d seen it before and Peter Bogdanovich’s AT LONG LAST LOVE** , well, just because. As for the coming year, I'm well aware that there are still more films to see for the first time.



1. THE BLACK MARBLE**– Nimble Harold Becker comedy mystery written by Joseph Wambaugh from his novel which combines a light footedness with an undeniably genuine sense of world-weariness coming from the characters. Recommended for any fan of crime movies, Los Angeles movies, Harry Dean Stanton or (for me in particular) Paula Prentiss.


2. DESIGN FOR LIVING – Delightful pre-code glass of champagne from Lubitsch starring Miriam Hopkins, Gary Cooper and Herbert Marshall, a somewhat surprising look at the benefits of, well, a threesome. But with no sex. Written by Ben Hecht, based (very loosely) on Noel Coward’s play. Just released on Blu-ray from Criterion but it would be worth seeking out even if it were harder to find.


3. THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL – All right, I admit it. I’m one of those people who first thought a certain joke involving Luis Buñuel in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was referring to THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISE. I’ve now been set right and I still can’t get some of it out of my mind.


4. THE HILL – Almost unbearably excruciating tale of a desert prison camp from Sidney Lumet who died this past April at the age of 86, his first of five with Sean Connery. Filmed in harsh black & white with the result playing as absolutely correct that no other color should be allowed to permeate this environment. You feel the total fatigue in every single moment.


5. THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE – Caught this Robert Aldrich drama at the New Beverly a few months back on the second half of a double bill with J. Lee Thompson’s very interesting RETURN FROM THE ASHES—word out there had it that the pairing had been programmed by Mr. Tarantino. At first I thought I wasn’t in the mood for this heavy two-hour-and-twenty minute look at the spiraling downfall of a alcoholic lesbian actress but by the time this nightmare reached its conclusion I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach.


6. LOOPHOLE – Barry Sullivan is a bank teller framed for a drawer shortage and tries to clear his name. Charles McGraw is the investigator convinced he’s guilty and won’t leave him alone for a second. One of the numerous hugely enjoyable discoveries at this year’s Noir fest at the American Cinematheque. Dorothy Malone’s in there too, which is always a plus.


7. MINISTRY OF FEAR – Wartime thriller directed by Fritz Lang starring Ray Milland that I caught at the New Beverly after years of being curious, featuring some of the most sumptuous black & white I’ve ever been privileged to witness in a movie theater.


8. MOVIE MOVIE – Stanley Donen directed, Larry Gelbart wrote, George C. Scott starred in this phony 30s double bill of a boxing melodrama and backstage musical. More quotable dialogue than you can imagine and sheer enjoyment every step of the way. Almost impossible to find—I sought out a VHS copy at Eddie Brandt’s—which is a shame. A cult movie in waiting and if only more people were able to see it.


9. TWISTED NERVE – The theme is now familiar to all from KILL BILL but the film itself, a 1968 British thriller directed by Roy Boulting about a somewhat unwell young man determined to make his way into the lives of a family he takes an interest in, is stunningly well made.


10. WENT THE DAY WELL? – World War II propaganda from the good guys based on a Graham Greene short story given a re-release this year and it’s a joy to see something this good newly discovered. The tension very much in the air at the time comes through in every scene and certain moments still play shocking for a crowd even now.





1 comment:

Ned Merrill said...

ON DANGEROUS GROUND and DESIGN FOR LIVING are 2 of my all-time favorites. I've been meaning to see THE HILL for so long, I really need to get on that. Missed WENT THE DAY WELL during it's revival tour last year. Very curious about THE BLACK MARBLE...Wambaugh and Becker had something of a partnership going there.